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Zidane admits fondness for Champions League rival Juventus

Real Madrid's French head coach Zinedine Zidane (AFP Photo/FRANCK FIFE)

Madrid (AFP) - Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he would have preferred to avoid Juventus in Friday's Champions League draw because of his attachment to the Italian giant where he spent five happy years.

The match, to be played on 3-11 April, is a replay of last season's Champions League final, which brought Zidane back-to-back European crowns with a 4-1 win in Cardiff.

"I spent five years over there and it was an important club in my career as a player, so obviously it always has an effect on me when we play Juve," said Zidane, who as a Juventus player lost the 1998 Champions League final to Real Madrid.

"I would have preferred to avoid Juventus for many reasons," said the coach who joined Madrid as a player in 2001, scoring a wonder-goal to clinch the Champions League final with a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

"But we drew Juve and now I have to concentrate on that and forget about everything that happened to me there as a player even if it'll always be there in the back of my mind."

"They look as solid as they were last year," said Zidane of the Juve outfit renowned for rock-solid defending and clinical breakaway finishing.

Zidane was also quizzed about Gareth Bale's state of mind and was asked if the Welsh winger was depressed at Madrid after missing selection for both legs of the last-16 victory over PSG.

"He's a very important part of our squad, he is happy to be with us and he has showed that. You can think whatever you want but he isn't sad," Zidane insisted.